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Crem

Economics is not a man’s field’: a history of CSWEP and the first gender reckoning in the economics profession

Lieu : Amphi D2
Début : 27/01/2020 - 14:15
Fin : 27/01/2020 - 15:45

Béatrice Cherrier (THEMA, UMR CNRS 8184) viendra présenter l'article suivant, co-écrit avec Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche et John Singleto

‘Economics is not a man’s field’: a history of CSWEP and the first gender reckoning in the economics profession

The 2019 AEA meeting in Atlanta involved a much-attended panel on “How Can Economics Solve its Gender Problem.” Speakers could rely on an ever-growing flow of recent research documenting the effect of gender biases in the profession, on papers documenting solutions. They however repeatedly toyed with an important idea without making its consequences clear: that economists tend to respond more negatively to the very idea of discrimination than other scientists. They paid no attention to another important fact: that the discipline is experiencing not its first, but its second gender reckoning. The 1979 ASSA meeting, also held in Atlanta, was almost canceled because of Georgia’s unwillingness to ratify the Equal Right Amendment, and led more than a 1,000 economists in attendance to sign a press ad supporting equal rights in a local journal. Understanding how economists have reflected on their own gender issues in past decades is not only important for the history of the discipline. Explaining which actions succeeded and which initiatives failed, provides crucial insights to the current conversation.

Our paper is a history of this first gender reckoning in US economics, one beginning in the early 1970s. Based on hitherto closed AEA archives, comprehensive oral interviews with major protagonists, and quantitative data from the first decade of the CSWEP’s Roster, we reconstruct the historical context that led to the establishment of the CSWEP in order to unpack its successes and failures, the enthusiasm it generated, and the resistance it encountered. We show that then (as now), the birth of CSWEP was tied to larger social movements: the feminist and civil rights movements, growing public awareness of issues surrounding discrimination, and the shifting legal context that drew many scientific societies toward such a reckoning. But we also emphasize how economists’ peculiar approach to social phenomena shaped their views of their own gender issues. For economists both studyand experience discrimination, which led them to approach gender issues within the profession as an economic phenomenon. The status of women in economics was thus tied to ongoing debates within labor economics. The theories, models, and empirical evidence that labor economists – from Becker and Arrow, Bell and Bergmann, Ashenfelter and Blinder, Ferber and Blau, among many others – developed and produced to understand the role of women in the economy also shaped economists’ understanding of gender issues within their profession. CSWEP pursued actions common to most scientific societies, such as mentorship programs and the development of a roster, but also very specific changes to the profession, such as the eventual establishment of Job Openings for Economists (rationalized in explicitly economic terms), and the sponsorship of conferences on women’s labor supply, discrimination, and occupational segregation.

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